What You Need to Know About Objectives & Key Results (OKR)

Business Insights

OKRs have been around for a long time but they have become popular over the past year. Using them is a key strategy for ensuring employee engagement and strategic alignment, meeting business goals, creating autonomy and ensuring the best utilisation of organisational resources. This article is a deep dive into what you need to know about OKRs.

What is OKR?

Naturally, the first question we need to answer is, “What is OKR?”. OKR is an acronym that stands for Objectives and Key Results. It is a management framework that is being used by the biggest companies in the world to implement and execute strategy.

OKR includes three things: the objective, the key results and the initiatives. The objectives are what the business would like to achieve or where it would like to go. Key results are what results the business and its employees need to achieve to ensure the objectives set are met. Key results also outline how the business, and its employees, will meet the objectives.

Key results are quantifiable and measurable metrics that lead to the development of projects and efforts that help with getting the desired results. These projects, efforts and tasks are known as initiatives. If initiatives are completely successful, the business gets the desired key results and can achieve its objectives.

The objectives and key results process was made popular by Google and has become a common organisational strategy for agile planning. Its popularity is also due to its ability to help businesses set goals and manage the results it gets from the highest levels to the lowest.

The Benefits of OKR

A key benefit of OKR is improved performance, productivity and sales. Research has shown that teams that set OKRs, work towards them and meet their goals are more effective at their jobs. This is thought to be because OKRs give teams something tangible to work on. With everyone knowing what they need to be working towards, they are much more likely to achieve excellent results.

Additionally, aiming for best-case scenarios and setting ambitious goals that almost look unrealistic helps teams achieve excellent results even when they do not meet their loftier goals.

Cultural Benefits

Another benefit is that it helps with a shift from output to outcomes. Setting the right team OKRs means the team focuses on tangible and demonstrable results, instead of providing output that leads to results that are much harder to verify.

Additionally, team OKRs create focus, alignment, transparency and accountability within the organisation. The secondary benefit of this is performance and employee engagement improvements.

Better Outcome Tracking

Tracking OKRs is very popular in top-tier companies. Every OKR written down should be trackable through the metrics that were established when it was written. While OKRs do not require daily tracking, periodic tracking is essential to prevent slippage.

Having the OKRs as well as the tracking data at hand provide crucial data points and metrics for long-term tracking. This can be done at an individual level where a manager or team leader can find out if an individual is meeting their OKRs. If not, further exploration can be done to find out what is going on.

Implementing OKRs In Your Organisation

If your business has not been using OKRs, it can feel challenging and risky to implement them. Although implementing OKRs is relatively straightforward, you should consider OKR consulting services if you are just getting started. Companies like 1ovmany help with OKR implementation in companies of different sizes. You can also source 1ovmany OKRs training services for your company and get ongoing support for OKR implementation and success.

Whether you get the training recommended or decide to start by yourself, the first step in implementing OKRs in your organisation will be defining your objective(s).

You start by defining clear objectives for all teams and individuals. Ideally, you should create no more than four objectives so teams and individuals can meet them. Also, limiting this number means their efforts will not be diluted if they have too much to think about and work on.

These objectives should also not overlap so they are as distinct from each other as possible. This helps a person know when they have met their objectives as meeting clean, unambiguous goals is more obvious.

Define Your Key Results

Ideally, you should define your key results as you define your objectives. These should be measurable in different ways. As with objectives, it should be obvious when an individual or team archives specific key results.

Try as much as you can to include numbers when defining your key results. For example, saying you want to increase sales by 35% is much better than saying you want to increase sales. Also, try not to use words like ‘analyse’ or ‘consult’ as these are tasks or activities rather than measurable goals.

Now that you understand what OKRs are, you should be ready to start implementing them for your team. Do not forget to seek help with OKR implementation if you find challenges along the way.